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Union County Man Indicted on Public Corruption Charges

By kbm0423 on

A Union County man has been indicted on charges of making corrupt payments to a public official, wire fraud, and using a facility in interstate commerce to facilitate bribery, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today.

Jeanmarie Zahore, 56, of Rahway has been charged in an indictment unsealed with one count of making corrupt payments to an agent of a local government receiving federal funds, two counts of wire fraud, and one count of violating the Travel Act to carry on bribery.

Zahore made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor and was released on a $100,000 unsecured bond. No date has been scheduled for Zahore’s arraignment.

According to the indictment:

Zahore was the sole owner of JZ Nettech, a computer consulting business that he operated out of his residence.

On September 15, 2015, the City Council of Orange Township, New Jersey, passed a resolution awarding JZ Nettech, without competitive bidding, a $350,000 emergency contract to install a computer networking system at a municipal complex that housed the Orange Municipal Court and the Orange Police Department (the “Municipal Complex Project”).

From August 2015 through at least November 23, 2015, Zahore engaged in a scheme to offer and give corrupt cash payments to an unnamed Orange public official to influence and reward them for using their influence to arrange for Orange to award JZ Nettech the emergency contract and to facilitate payments from Orange to JZ Nettech.

After communications between Zahore and the public official, at a meeting at the Municipal Complex on September 14, 2015, the public official advised a senior official of the Orange Municipal Court (the “Court Official”) and a senior official of the Orange Police Department (the “Police Department Official”) that: (a) there was an urgent need to address a potential security vulnerability in the Municipal Complex’s computer network, and (b) JZ Nettech had been selected as the vendor to fix the problem.

The public official caused Orange to issue a Certification of Funds, certifying that $350,000 was available for the Municipal Complex Project and identifying the vendor as JZ Nettech.

On September 15, 2015, the public official spoke before the Orange City Council in support of allocating emergency funds for the Municipal Complex Project and awarding the Municipal Complex Project to JZ Nettech.

At the meeting, during which Orange City Council members raised questions about the selection of JZ Nettech as the vendor for the Municipal Complex Project, the public official did not disclose that they had engaged in communications with Zahore since at least August 31, 2015.

On September 16, 2015, the day after the Orange City Council approved the $350,000 contract, the public official approved the issuance of a blanket purchase order authorizing Orange to pay JZ Nettech $350,000 in connection with the Municipal Complex Project.

On September 17, 2015, after Zahore and the public official text-messaged about Zahore’s invoice to Orange and meeting with each other, Zahore sent an email to an Orange Employee, attached to which was a JZ Nettech “invoice related to the 1st stage of the project” seeking a payment of $115,000.

On the same date, Zahore sent a text message to the public official, stating, “I sent [the JZ Nettech invoice for $115,000] to [Orange Employee]. Do you want a copy sent to u?”

On September 18, 2015, Zahore sent an email to the Orange Employee, attached to which was a revised JZ Nettech invoice, still seeking a payment of $115,000, but now indicating that $34,460 of the $115,000 was for the “Purchase of wiring for buildings.”

On the same date, at the public official's direction, the Police Department Official signed and approved a purchase order for the payment of $115,000 to JZ Nettech for the “PURCH[ASE] OF WIRING/CABLE/SUPPLIES” for the Municipal Complex Project. Typically, vendors are not pre-paid by Orange to purchase supplies for a project.

From September 18, 2015, to November 10, 2015, Zahore received and deposited three Orange checks totaling $350,000 in connection with the Municipal Complex Project into a bank account for him and JZ Nettech.

On November 20, 2015, and November 23, 2015, Zahore withdrew a total of approximately $50,000 in cash from this bank account, which was obtained, in substantial part, from the funds paid by Orange.

On each of those same dates, Zahore gave, and the public official accepted, approximately $10,000 in cash, which was intended to influence and reward the public official for their assistance in connection with the Municipal Complex Project.

Zahore characterized those two cash payments to Individual 1 totaling approximately $20,000 in a spreadsheet that Zahore maintained of expenses related to the Municipal Complex Project as follows:

11/20/2015
Gift: [Initials of Individual 1]
$10,000.00

11/23/2015
Gift: [Initials of Individual 1]
$10,000.00

Each of the following charges carries the following maximum potential penalties:

The count of making corrupt payments to an agent of a local government receiving federal funds is punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison; the count of wire fraud is punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison, and the count of use of an interstate facility to facilitate bribery is punishable by a maximum of five years in prison. Each count also carries a potential fine of $250,000.